Hoodoo Conjuration WItchcraft & Rootwork
- Publication date
- African Americans, Afro-Americans, Irish, English, German, European, Folklore, Root Work, Root Doctors, Mojo, Hands, Foot Track Magic, Black Cat Bone, Pow Wow, The South, Hoodoo, Medicine, Magic, mystic, spagiric, Social life and customs
The "Hoodoo" collection consists of 13,458 separate magic spells and folkloric beliefs, plus lengthy interviews with professional root doctors, conjures, and hoodoos. All but one of Hyatt's 1600 informants were African-Americans, but several narrations by European-Americans (collected for his earlier book, "Folklore From Adams County, Illinois") were also included. Hyatt recorded the material on Edison cylinders and a device called a Telediphone, often without the full knowledge of the participants. He then transcribed and annotated it for publication. Occasionally his equipment failed or was not available and he took hand-written notes instead. The 1930s field recordings have since been destroyed, with the exception of a few cylinders that Hyatt had pressed onto 78 rpm records. The Florida interviews of 1970, recorded on cassette tapes, have survived.
As if to overcome the ham-fisted linguistic editing of Negro dialect that marred "Folklore From Adams County Illinois," this time Hyatt transcribed the speech of his informants semi-phonetically. What may look to modern eyes like "racial stereotyping" or making fun of Southerners was actually his sincere attempt to catalogue variant regional pronunciations. If you read several spells, you will see that he did NOT impose upon his informants one single stereotyped "black dialect" or "Southern dialect" but in fact conveyed, as accurately as he could, the true sound of each person's speech. Reading the spells aloud and noting the location where each informant lived will help you comprehend this. I do not intend to apologize for Hyatt's technique, and i hope that future scholars will not do so either.
The publication of this material was accomplished between 1970 and 1978, again under the imprint "Memoirs of the Alma C. Hyatt Foundation." The first two volumes were issued as a set in 1970, and said to be complete, but then, after a few years, three more volumes were released. Hyatt died before the sixth volume, an index, was prepared.
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